Dr. Bryant was named the president of Panhandle State in 2003. He immediately confronted several major challenges at Panhandle State, including developing constituent and community support, renovating campus infrastructure, and engaging the Hispanic community. Bryant gave the university a new sense of direction and renewed sense of purpose with his leadership and dedication to the campus.
Dr. Bryant’s holistic approach was key to stabilizing and improving the institution and advancing the school’s stature as a major contributor to the social and cultural life of the region and as an essential ingredient enhancing northwest Oklahoma’s economic development potential.
Bryant started with a very basic approach to revitalizing the physical campus: making it beautiful. Dr. Bryant emphasized landscaping and attention to detail, replaced sidewalks and campus signage, paved formerly-dirt parking lots, and planted gardens all with the goal of making the university a pleasant, inviting environment in which students could live, work and study. Bryant made significant contributions in support of affirmative action, including paying strict attention to supporting and following equal opportunity guidelines in the hiring of faculty and staff, and advocating for the recruitment of women into undergraduate programs and administration.
Bryant also reviewed academic offerings and established new programs to reinvigorate students’ learning and interest. He developed several new associate degree programs including emergency medical technician, fire protection safety, and wind energy and maintenance training. These programs dovetailed with community needs and the industrial and energy sector growth in the Oklahoma panhandle.
Since the beginning of his academic career, Bryant has published dozens of articles on range management topics. He was a frequent presenter at academic conferences in his academic field, and consulted on allotment management plans in Arizona as a range extension specialist.
Dr. Bryant met his wife Diane on a blind date while working one summer for the U.S. Forest Service in La Grande, Ore. Diane was a loving partner and helpmate during their life together at universities throughout the western U.S. Diane passed in May, 2017. Their marriage spanned over 51 years and resulted in a daughter Amy, son John (passed) and two grandsons, Ryan and Tyler. Amy, Ryan, and Tyler all attended Panhandle State. Amy now teaches Spanish at the high school in Waldport, Ore.; Ryan is working on his PhD. in plant genetics at OSU in Stillwater; and Tyler is working on his MBA at West Texas A&M University.
Dr. Bryant’s educational history goes back to Lower Columbia College, where he earned an associate degree in zoology. He continued his studies at Washington State University, receiving his bachelor’s in range management. He pursued his master’s in range science at Texas Tech, and earned his doctorate in range management from the University of Arizona. Bryant’s administrative background in higher education began almost immediately after receiving his doctorate, when he served as chairman of the Department of Range Management at Humboldt State University in California from 1973-76. From 1982-87, he served as the head of the Range Resources Department at the University of Idaho and then as the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences at South Dakota State University from 1987-98. In 1998, Bryant became the Vice Provost as well as the Dean and Director of the extension service at Montana State University and served in this capacity until being named President of Oklahoma Panhandle State University in 2003.
Dr. Bryant said, “Serving the students, faculty, staff and community members of Oklahoma Panhandle State University as the President was the highlight of my working life. Over the years, I have worked with a number of dedicated faculty and staff members and wonderful students who recognize, as I do, the importance of having a fine public university located in the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Together we have accomplished a lot, and we have put this University on firm footing for the future.”